2014: The Future of Content Marketing and Media

The Top 7 Trends From Business Insider’s Ignition 2013

2014 Future of Content Marketing & MediaMarketers and media executives must plan for 2014’s dynamic environment. In it, social media, content and connected devices converge to make context the critical defining factor of their information delivery.

This convergence is driving a variety of exciting opportunities for forward-looking businesses where information delivery facilitates and drives real results for both businesses and customers.

At Business Insider’s Ignition 2013 Conference in New York, top executives and entrepreneurs discussed the future of content marketing and media for 2014 and beyond. These 7 trends focus on the conventional PC, smartphone and tablets while other devices including wearables, home, television and cars were discussed.

1. By 2014 media companies must be mobile.

At Ignition 2013, almost every media company made the point that 2013 mobile growth outpaced expectations. (Here are 67 Mobile Facts to provide context.)

  • Over 50% of their core audience’s content consumption occurs via mobile app for the FT. This means sense since mobile devices are used to snack on content.
  • 24% of new digital subscriptions come via their mobile app according to the FT.
  • Apps are for loyalists for JetBlue Airways. These customers have a relationship with the company and want a more robust set of features on the app.

2. BUT don’t be mobile only because the world is multi-screen.

Marketers and media companies need to be where their audience spends their time.To this end, follow the desire lines of where people want to go.

  • On average, people use 20 mobile apps or less.
  • 85% of people use their smartphone while they’re watching TV. Understand audiences tend to be passive. A fraction of the people tweet about TV while a larger proportion read tweets.

3. Every social tool isn’t perfect for every brand.

Each company has to test which platforms work best for their brands and products.

  • Larger companies find it a challenge to manage multiple social media accounts. SAP has established standards and governance around the accounts with best response.
  • LinkedIn is important for the sales team to work prospects. Support your salespeople to help them to build their personal brands and to appreciate the type of content needed to make a connection.
  • Slideshare is one of the biggest B2B opportunities. B2B Biz execs spend 3 times more time on Slideshare. For example, SAP made a Slideshare deck based on a senior executive’s request for information. Here are more SlideShare Content Marketing tips with examples.

4. Email the ultimate mobile social product.

Email continues to be a key, if not the best, driver for both media entities and retailers. People forward something of value via email while social sharing is about their reputation.

For Digg, email performance was a big surprise. Digg has a high open rate for their daily email containing 5 stories. The email includes one video before it appears on site and it gets as many views as on site.

5. Good storytelling is required.

Regardless of platform, marketers and media firms must create stories people want to read. Content marketers take note. In the words of Slate’s Chairman & Editor-in-Chief Jacob Weisberg, “There’s no better time to be a journalist.”

  • 3 factors make a strong story according to VICE’s Shane Smith.  They are: Use a simple hook to pull readers in, tell a story with a beginning, middle and end, and deliver an ending worthy of the story build up. In Smith’s words, the story should “punch you in the face.”
  • Viral stories are the exception. Patrick Keene pointed out that 0.3% of Upworthy articles are deemed viral (BTW, here’s a discussion of an Upworthy viral hit.) Instead, aim to create the best content you can each time to build your authority.
  • Technology drives new forms of storytelling. For example, an application like Mint.com provides new insights based on highly personalized information that readers don’t get with other news forms.
  • Tablets have changed the length of article consumed. Allow for long format content consumption.

6. Brands are publishers.

Many brands are either publishers on their own sites or leverage the power of native advertising to co-create content with professional media companies like Gawker. (BTW–Here’s a comparison of content marketing vs native advertising.)

  • Non-promotional content gets 10 times the reach of promotional content noted SAP’s Michael Brenner.
  • Authenticity is critical for brands. Be aware of readers’ mindset.
  • Results may take time. On Tumblr which enables people to be a DJ of their content, 80% of content on Tumblr is from the reshare. 1/3 of Tumblr impact comes 1 month after brand publication, often from people who don’t follow brand.
  • AMEX’s Open Forum is the brand as publisher poster child. Open Forum publishes 50 pieces per week across 5 topic areas and 20 categories yielding over 1 million pageviews per month. They’ve brought a lot of the talent in-house.

7. Media companies need a mix of revenue streams.

In the words of Steve Jurvetson, “Money follows the eyeballs.” In other words, eyeballs are a proxy for attention. While this isn’t a new idea, it needs to be stated.

  • Don’t underestimate different ways to monetize your content. For media entities, this means subscriptions, advertising and one off products (such as events and other on-brand products).
  • Own your customer relationships directly. The FT doesn’t use the iTunes store since they would lose 30% of the upsell/crosssell potential of their customers.
  • Test new revenue models. For example, Vimeo installed a Tip Jar, something used by many bloggers. If you like what you view, then leave money. Vimeo’s average tip is in the high single digits.


For 2014, regardless of your business, you must focus on your customer and her context when she uses her connected devices to consume your information.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

PS- Big tip of my hat to Susan Borst of the IAB who led the Native Advertising Panel.

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